It’s now been a week since fire broke out at the Marco Polo condominium complex in Honolulu, killing three people. This week, Honolulu’s mayor and the City Council are calling for older condominiums to be retrofitted with sprinklers. Pacific Business News took a look at whether such work could be done. PBN managing editor Janis Magin has more.
Mayor Caldwell and the City Council wasted no time following last Friday’s fatal fire at the Marco Polo condominium that killed three people. On Tuesday, the council introduced a bill to require residential buildings built before 1975 to install fire sprinkler systems. Looking past the political implications of the proposal, PBN spoke to several people in the fire suppression business this week to get their take on whether such work could be done by local companies within the five-year window outlined in the bill.
It wouldn’t be the first time buildings in Hawaii would be required to be retrofitted. The first time was back in the 1980s, when hotels built before 1975 had to install sprinklers. Then in the early 2000’s, owners of office towers and other commercial high-rises built before 1975 were mandated to retrofit their properties.
Jim Adams of Critchfield Pacific has been installing sprinkler retrofits since the late 80s. He says that with new technology, the cost to retrofit a building is not much more than it was in 1992. That’s when his former company, Total Fire Systems, installed sprinklers in the 463 units at the Ka’anapali Shores hotel condominium on Maui. The cost then was just under eight-thousand-dollars per unit.
Adams says the work can be done with local companies. There are at least eleven businesses that do such work as installing fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems in Hawai‘i. Other business owners we spoke to say they’re up to the task.